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Sara B. Franklin

Seeding a Dark World with New Life

Seedling ready to be planted

Sara B. Franklin | Longreads | March 2020 | 4 minutes (1,034 words)


On Saturday, March 14, the day after public schools and our twin three years olds’ daycare closed in our Hudson Valley town, I sent the kids to their sitter one final time, frantic for a couple hours to get a few things done before I turned myself over to motherhood, all day, every day, for the foreseeable future.

There were piles of laundry to do, a shopping list that needed tending, urgently. But I found myself drawn out into the garden, still covered with mulch for its wintry slumber. Poking around, I saw early signs of life; the rhubarb had poked its rippling, fuchsia crowns out of the damp earth, and the tiny frills of wild nettles were several centimeters high in the rangy, untended back corner. The chives, too, had suddenly shot up in the preceding days’ warmth. It seemed too early, I thought, running back in my mind over all my years of planting. But then, this was the winter that never was, the deep freeze that never came. The unease has been around us for months now. The geese came home early, turtles are resting on logs already, the peepers out in the beaver pond the first week of March: a full month ahead.

wasn’t ready, but the earth was ready; the plants were telling me so. So I pulled my box of seeds from the kitchen shelf. Out back in the shed, I wrangled a sharply-tipped hoe from behind a mess of bikes and lawn chairs. In the garden, I knelt over a bed, pulled aside the browned grass clippings from the last mowing of the fall, made two shallow rows, and dropped seeds into the ground — tiny, almond-shaped lettuce seeds and those of kale and collards, like burgundy poppy seeds. It might be too early, I thought as I sprinkled the harbingers of life into place, but it’s worth a shot. Anything hopeful, right now, is worth a shot.

I should know. I’ve been here before, in another time, another life, it seems.
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